China holiday to mark defeat of Tibet uprising
January 12, 2009, 11:10 am TWN
BEIJING -- Chinese-backed Tibetan leaders will soon set a date for what they call "Serf Liberation Day" to mark the defeat 50 years ago of a pro-independence uprising in the Himalayan region, state media reported Sunday.
A holiday to mark the "emancipation of millions of serfs and slaves" in Tibet will be decided on during a meeting of the region's legislature starting Wednesday, Xinhua News Agency said. The entry of Chinese forces into Tibet in 1949 was followed by efforts to transform the Buddhist, feudal order into a socialist, secular society. Tibetans rebelled on March 10, 1959, to try an oust the Chinese, but the uprising ended after 20 days with the flight of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, into exile in India.
A bill to decide on a holiday marking those events will be presented during the second annual session of the ninth Tibet Regional People's Congress, Xinhua said.
The bill is aimed at "reminding all the Chinese people, including Tibetans, of the landmark democratic reform initiated 50 years ago," Pang Boyong, deputy secretary general of the Tibetan regional congress standing committee, said Saturday, according to the report.
"Since then, millions of slaves under the feudal serfdom became masters of their own," Pang said.
Calls to the Tibet regional people's congress rang unanswered and two Tibetan government officials contacted by phone Sunday in Lhasa said they were unaware of the news.
Critics of Chinese rule in Tibet note the region remains one of China's poorest and say most of the benefits of economic development have gone to members of the Han Chinese majority, rather than to Tibetans.
They accuse the government of enforcing policies intended to destroy the indigenous culture and language and of persecuting Tibetan Buddhists loyal to the Dalai Lama.
In the report, Pang also criticized the Dalai Lama and his supporters for "sabotaging" the Communist Party's system of regional autonomy in Tibet. "They are against the will of the Tibetan people and running against the historical trend of progress in this region," he was quoted as saying.
Beijing demonizes the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and claims he seeks to destroy China's sovereignty by pushing for independence for Tibet. The Dalai Lama says he wants "real autonomy" for Tibet, not independence.
China claims Tibet has always been part of its territory, while many Tibetans assert their land was virtually independent for centuries.
Deadly riots in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, on March 14 last year sparked the biggest anti-government protests among Tibetans in decades — and a major military crackdown.